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tv   [untitled]    December 27, 2012 12:00pm-12:30pm PST

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>> we are actually live now, and so good morning and welcome to the public safety committee of the san francisco board of supervisors my name is john avalos, the chair of the committee and joined to my right by supervisor christina olague, who will be joined shortly by eric mar who is also a member of the committee and our clerk and erica and we are staffed by the sfgtv and could you share with us your
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announcements? >> please, make sure to silence all cell phones and complete the speaker cards and any documents to be included as part of the file should be submitted to the clerk, the items acted upon will appear on the january 13th, 2013, agenda unless otherwise stated. >> could you call items. >> hearing to review the san francisco police department and general orders related to tasers including the department's plan to equipment the officers and the crisis intervention team with tasers. >> thank you, madam clerk. we are just joined by supervisor eric mar, this is a hearing that i called forward in the context of having years dialogue about the use of tasers or electronic controlled weapons in san francisco. this is something that has been taken up in this time, by the
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police commission, but since, it is discussion that is happening ongoing, with many of our committees across san francisco, i wanted to bring it forward as a hearing to be able to get some input from the board of supervisors and also to hear what plans are from the police department as well about how they want to move forward. in the middle of this discussion, is also the work of the crisis intervention team. there was a resolution that was passed last march by the police commission that gave broad latitude for the police departments to really strengthen the crisis intervention work and team and training. and i would hope to get an update on that today. i believe that the greatest use of or great use of police department energy is around people who are dealing with mental health issues and mental health crisis and the crisis intervention team is really geared to responding to that great need we have here in san
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francisco. i am concerned personally about the use of electronic controlled weapons, tasers, especially how they could be used in a show of force, not just bringing about compliance but in a show of force on people who are mentally ill in san francisco and i think that for me it makes a lot of sense that we make our work around crisis intervention as strong as it can be. before considering, you know, use of lethal force in the department. i am not a decision maker through but this is part of a hearing from hearing from the supervisors and members of the public. we also have here, i am happy to have chief greg sure and who is here to present on this issue. he only has a limited amount of time here this morning and so i would like to call him up first to discuss his objective or his
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interest, the work of the department around electronic control weapons, tasers, mr. sure. >> good morning, members of the public. thank you for affording me the time prior to this hearing being schedule, i had made a commitment to be at fransisco middle school to talk to the students and i like to keep my commitments to the kids. but this is an important meeting so i appreciate you letting me go first. when i became chief of police there had been a resolution passed by the police commission to look into less lethal options. there was a process described in that resolution that members of the commission, the chief of police, or the police department and the officers and citizen complaints would arrive and they would do a survey if you would of the options available and proposal as to policy, and then convene the
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community meetings to vet interest, and opinions of the public, many of the people share your opinion that they don't want us to have tasers. i examined various recommendations and reports from across the country as to how to most prudently get less lethal options, responsibility in the hands of officers and if you look at the perpstudies and other outlets it was that they were not recommended that they go out wholesale to a police department for then you do see a spike or various officers go to that device first, verses using the other things. so, after we had the first thing that we did when i became chief was initiated a policy asking officers to basically slow down, to back up, call the super superviser to the scene and called the officers who have a greater expertise in
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dealing with people in crisis. and we have been very, successful over my time as chief in dealing with folks who are only a danger to themselves and this prescribed policy of slowing down and engaging has gotten the folks the help that they needed. unfortunately earlier this year there was a person in crisis who was not only a danger to himself but had harmed another person and we didn't have any option between our stick and our pepper spray and lethal force and unfortunately, when the person came at the officer, the officer had to use her firearm and that person did not survive his injuries. at this point in time, i thought it was a good or an opportune moment in moral obligation to bring the request forth that we be allow to arm these singular trained officers, those most trained in dealing with folks in crisis,
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those most redicent to go to a weapon in the first place, approximately at this point in time, five percent of the department has had this training, and make a less lethal option an electronic conductive device if that is to be the device, put it in the hands of these folks so that they can engage those people in crisis with one more tool in their toolbox, if you will, between being seriously injured or killed themselves or having to use lethal force because there would be something in the middle. so where we are right now we have a draft policy that we have used having it together from the presentations made at the present commission, from a doctor, a particular doctor that said if you have these things then at least you have to do x, so his recommendations are in the policy. we took it from the other policies that we believe were the most restrictive on the
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officers to use. that policy is posted on-line. under the police commission website under documents. available to the public to see whenever they would like and then we have our first, i believe our first meeting of the public will be on january ninth, the details of where are still being worked out. and then there would be two subsequent meetings after those three meetings, we would go back and i would anticipate and have a lengthy debate in front of the police commission at which point in time they would make the decision, the commission that, as to whether or not as proposed these singular crisis trained these five percent of the police department would be afforded one more legislate lethal tool in the toolbox to deal with those in crisis. >> thank you, i appreciate you can here. supervisor olague wanted to have remarks in your presence before you had to leave. and i have a few questions.
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>> and my two commanders, micalali who has done a good job in bringing the program and the policy to this point is going to be handing it off to commander richard korea who will be taking over the crisis intervention training program as in 2013, assignments have changed and commander ali will be focusing on other things but will be available for a historical perspective as to what has gone before. >> thank you. >> supervisor olague. >> i guess that i just think that it is unfortunate conversation to be having. because it seems to me that the focus really should be on... i believe that this is a public health issue. and meant to call the public health department, and never got around to it to ask them to be here today because it seems to me that mental health is an issue that there are a lot of people in this city, i believe,
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especially low income people, not especially, but there are a lot of people who are have those types of issues to deal with. and so, it seems to me that rather than the conversation be about what additional weapon can we use against people who are having a mental health crisis that the conversation should be how do we strengthen our cit program so that officers won't have the knee jerk reaction. to me it is creating the culture where it is okay to use a weapon with someone in a crisis, it is giving that suggestion, that there is all of these steps to take, but it is okay to tase a person who is in a mental health crisis and i don't think that is okay. and i have not had the opportunity to speak to mental health professionals but i am wondering what kind of trauma would be imposed on an individual who is suffering from some kind of mental illness, who in their crisis moment is tased. i don't know. i mean, i just don't think that
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this would have maybe a very positive impact on the recovery. i think that it might create more ptsd, i don't know, i am not a mental health professional. i am just saying, that you know, i just also read very little about the case but i know that the individual, i guess, at the chocolate factory who was killed, was brandishing a box cutter. so i was not there, i am not going to pass judgment. i am just saying, that i am wondering how we get from there to how it escalated to the point where it did. if people had more training around crisis intervention that dealt with compassion as opposed to reaching for a weapon. i don't mean to sound naive and in northern ireland they used rubber bullets. and tasers have been known to be lethal and we have incidents like author grant and others
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where the people accidentally grabbed for the taser and people are killed and there is more than one incident and mostly the people of color that are victims of this. and so, it just seems to me that would be great, i think, if we could spend more time with people having widening the basket of, you know, tools that you all could use that have more to do with different kind of intervention, one that isn't based on a weapon. also, in the south i remember reading during the civil rights period where they were hosing people down with water and the water also had a lethal impact. so i am just saying that these weapons sound, well we are not using a gun or actual bullets. but it does not actually necessarily, i am not convinced that it necessarily always takes away the lethal aspect. and i think that we have plenty of examples where people of color and low income working people have particularly been
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victimized by that and there was even that incident here at the theatre where that young man was brandishing another little, i don't know, he was not brandishing a gun was killed. so, i'm just afraid that if then, the option comes to you as a taser that that is where the people will go automatically. instead of having like you said, the slow down, think more. whatever. i'm not, you know, and since tasers do have a lethal, there is a possibility of that and i'm just not... i just wish that the conversation were really different here. >> i agree, i don't disagree with what you are saying and certainly we have sat through more hearings than i can count where many people have expressed your same opinion. and the metrion situation was steli and you spoke of the factory and i think that in those instances the
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investigations showed that the use of the officer's firearm was justified. i don't want to get into arguments about that but, i would say that in both of those instances, a taser would have been a better might have been a better option. it certainly would have been a less lethal option than the firearm and we might be discussing how that happened or, you know, how someone fell and recovered verses there were the firearm. and again, there is a process, there will be long debates. this is not something that people on both sides of the issue don't feel strongly about. but again, we are going to have the conversation and the commission will make a decision. and i think that as prescribed by the resolution it is a way to do it. >> i think that we should create a culture of crisis and not a culture of using a weapon
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which is a taser, that is all. i think that that once we have these and go down that path and have these types of conversations that that is kind of what is the word? it is kind of an easy way out. you know? sort of like, you know, it is okay to tase. >> i think that it takes more discipline to develop a different kind of culture. >> having been there before, i would not use the word easy as an adjective dealing with a person in crisis, either the person or the officer or someone else. i would suggest that it is just, again for me the impact that the officer having to use deadly force has on an officer, it is obvious the injury to the person but impact psychologically to the officer is tremendous. i have heard on my watch, if we never have to shoot anybody, with a firearm that works for me. so, we had to do that, i was there that day, at the
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chocolate factory. and i know the officer well and it breaks my heart for the family of the man that was in crisis, and for the officer. and so i just felt ta my duty to bring it forward and let the public be heard. and have the commission vote it up or down on behalf of the department. >> thank you. supervisor mar? >> i know that people are passionate about the patient and i want to make sure that we are reframing from clapping and show the support that way, just to make sure that we have. >> i will be try to be brief because i know that there are a lot of people from the community who want to speak. >> i see commissioner ali and korea for being back here. i know that the police commission is the ultimate
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decision maker and there is a number of forums coming up in january and so i will be watching carefully. and i think that i want to be supportive of officers having tools to make sure that they protect the public safety and also that their safety is protected as well. and if tasers, if data can show that it might be a good tool for officers and that data shows that it does not violate civil rights and that it will... and we could fund adequate training for the officers and the department, i can see that it might be a good pilot project and i guess that i do have some concerns as my colleagues have raised of how this is moving forward. we have to listen to community input. i definitely want to understand the cost impacts of a fully implemented taser system from a pilot program as opposed to broader level training costs and the effectiveness as well.
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and i just also wanted to say that i am hoping that we can talk through as thoroughly the civil rights implications and also in the richmond district in inner richmond there was a death and a mental issue. and i am trying to understand how the officers are with the crisis intervention team are as adequately trained as possible to deal with whether it is immigrant and non-english speaking populations or african populations. and very sensitively i share a lot of concerns that have been raised by the aclu and many of the community-based groups that are here and the comments of my colleagues as well. thanks for being here and i will be watching carefully the january community meetings that the police commission will be holding as well. >> thank you, very quickly the case that you site in the richmond, that particular person in crisis murdered his mother with knives and then popped out and turned the knives on the officers, they
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did deploy the less lethal option and it was ineffective and continued the assault and having committed what had been a murder. those are again, tragedies to be sure, i can assure that the crisis intervention training is a priority to me. it is a priority for the department and it is ongoing and it is robust. we have tremendous support from the mental health community in going forward on it. and the discussion is in process about the taser. so that is being discussed. the crisis intervention training has been and will continue and it would be my desire at some point in time to have the entire department have that additional level of training. thank you. >> thank you. >> just before you go, real quick. do you have any thoughts about the memphis model of crisis intervention i have heard a lot about it. recently. it has been around for a long time, since 1988. what i read in the statistics
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it was cited by the university of florida, i believe that there were about two to three shootings by police officers a year and then that was reduced actually between 88 to 2011, to 3 in that whole time because of who were employed in memphis, what are your thoughts about that and how that could be applied? >> first and last two years, we have had one, so, we are doing well in that regard. the officers have the message. i spoke to the chief at the international association with a police meeting and we actually have more we have more trained officers than memphis does by ratio and unfortunately they had just had an occasion where they had to use deadly force on a person in crisis. they also don't have tasers. but he said that he would like to entertain something like we are discussing here but for budget constraints, but no the
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memphis model is a good model. i actually believe that ours is almost a memphis model plus. >> we will be going to that with the commanders, but i appreciate you can here. and talk to you soon. >> well, let's call of our commanders. >> would you like opening comments? >> we are joined by supervisor david compos as well. >> good morning, i am the current coordinator of the police department's crisis intervention team. just kind of want to give you an overview of what has taken place since i have taken charge of this effort in september of last year. since that time, we have had three classes where we trained not only san francisco police officers, but officers from other agencies in total we have
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trained 118 san francisco police officers that would be three lieutenants, and 13 sergeants and 103 patrol officers. and those officers are equally disbursed in the patrol force. both night and day, respectfully, 36 percent or so of that compliment of trained officers are working the evening shifts the remaining during the day. and on average, there is about ten officers per, district station, the directive is clear to the cit officers, their primary responsibility is to respond to incidents where individuals are in crisis. and effectively a person in crisis can be any and every one of us, not just someone who has a mental health background. the idea simply put as the chief pointed out, we started this process in terms of giving
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the clear direction to the department back in may of 2011 when the chief issued a bulletin, basically telling everyone to slow down, there is no need to create an exit dentcy if one does not exist. if they present a threat to themselves we have all of the time in the world and going to utilize that in order to mitigate whatever crisis there might be. with that said as the chief has pointed out. i think that we have had tremendous success in just getting our processes to slow down as we do this level of engagement. and but at the same time, there are instances when words simply do not work. when the behavior and i think that it is incredibly important in the spirit of cultural competency and language challenges, that what we are talking about is the behave or that manifests from individuals who are in crisis.
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our officers are trained that when the behavior is such that they only constitute a threat to themselves take the time and try to do everything that we can to connect with them. i share a story of a young marine who was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. he had been involved in a minor traffic collision. to you and i this is not a major incident. but to this person it triggered something. he rear ended a vehicle and jumped up and ran off into the forest, this did not happen in san francisco, this happened in oregon. the troopers responded and the next day, that day, went for searching for this individual, couldn't find him. he was really far off into the woods. some five miles or so. and during the course of that investigation, they determined who the individual was, they contacted the family, and determined that this person had
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a or was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and as a result of minor conflict would simply run away. the next day the troopers went off on a snowmobile and made contact with the person. and the engagement was simple this, the trooper himself, being a former marine, contacted the personified ... and identified him by his name and said semp er fi soldier. and it immediately made a connection and there were no issues whatsoever. unfortunately that same individual had lengthy issues of conflict with law enforcement. but, by slowing down and making this kind of contact, connecting with the person which we are teaching our folks how to do, how to connect. my name is mikal, i am not commander ali when i am having this level of contact with a
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person in crisis, as a result, right there, this disarms in many instances and allows us to engage. this level of training is taking place and we are doing it in connection with a multitude with different agencies both public and private in san francisco. we are currently going to have four additional trainings this coming year. we are also having discussions with the university of san francisco to model what has taken place in memphis, with the memphis police department and the university of memphis. i will stop right there, because i think that perhaps, probably good time to answer questions. >> supervisor compos? >> i want to thank you for hearing this important item and i want to thank the police department for being here and i know that the chief had to leave and we appreciate his comments and we have a number of members of the community who
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have been tracking these for years. the issues of tasers is something that something that san francisco like many other cities has been graveling with for quite some time. let me begin by saying that i am certainly in support of giving police officers the tools they need to do the job and i think that we have a responsibility to do that. that said, i am still not convinced that tasers are a tool that actually is needed for you to perform the duties in a manner that is conist ant with what i think is expected of all officers here. looking at the memphis model, i am still not sure what it is that tasers give you, that you don't presently have. and so i am wondering if you could address that issue.
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and i address that issue in the context of this. that when you have tasers, a tool that the evidence shows has its own risks and we have heard of officers who have been tased in the course of training and turning around and suing, you know, the company because of the harm of that experience. when you have a tool like tasers, that could actually be a lethal tool, depending on what happens, you want to make sure that you, you know, have a clear necessity for it. that you are getting something that you presently don't have. so i am wondering if you could address that commander? >> i think that i can. i think that if we look at the memphis model, they deploy two officer teams in their crisis intervention and each one of those teams, and there is
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another dynamic in memphis, there is a pay incentive for those officers to be part of the crisis intervention team in memphis, we do not do that. we want a completely volunteer army in this regard. we don't want motivations of financial e gain. and there is a debate on that issue in putting forth crisis intervention teams, do you want to incentivize it monetary. many folks are understanding that that is not something that they want to do. >> and they also deploy with the weapon system a 40 millimeter impact system and it looks like if you will, a huge revolver and this weapon system projects a projectile that is about 40 millimeters in size and it gives a tremendous impact upon it. and it creates and there is a significant amount of damage upon impact. and we don't care, we carry that only for our swat officers